Its common knowledge that most bartenders and wait staff are often paid a stipend hourly wage since it is expected that the bulk of their wages will come from the tips they earn. Since tips are such an integral part of a bartender’s and wait staffer’s income I find it amazing that so many bartenders and wait staff don’t understand the origins and reasons behind tipping. Many hospitality providers think tips are required and certainly expected. This historical article should help you understand the reasons behind tipping and help you increase your tips.
Most scholars and historians alike agree that the concept of providing money for a service or product dates back to the early Roman Empire. Historical records reveal citizens of Rome would typically provide a merchant or vendor a small sum of money prior to ordering any product or service. This was done to insure their product or service would be promptly delivered. After the service or product was rendered and if it met or exceeded the customers expectations the buyer would provide an additional compensation known as a gratuitatem which we today call a gratuity.
Therefore a tip was initially provided whereas a gratuity was received after a transaction was complete. Thus the word Tip is not even a word. TIP or TIPS is actually an acronym with stood for To Insure Promptness or To Insure Prompt Service.
For years Americans often gave money (a TIP) prior to a receiving meal or drink just like the Romans. Upon leaving a bar or restaurant they then left a gratuity to show their appreciation. Maybe you have seen an old movie where a group of people or couple arrives at a crowded restaurant or busy night club. It looks like they will never get in because it is so packed. Then someone reaches into their pocket and pulls out what was appears to be a $10 or $20 - hands it to the host - who instantly finds a table that has just become available with their name on it and the group or couple is promptly escorted in.
This historical concept of tipping in America changed however during the mid 1940’s for a few reasons: First, there was the depression of the 1930’s which left most people with limited money; Second, the GI’s returning home from WWII had traveled the world and saw that most countries did not require a Tip to get good service only a gratuity to say ‘Thank You’ based on the service that was rendered. Finally, the industrialized American business concept was changing; businesses were now beginning to realize the importance of attracting and retaining “regular” customer’s; consequently prompt customer service when a person walked in the door was becoming the norm and expected business practice.
Today the sum of money a customer leaves a bartender or member of a wait staff after a service has been provided is generally referred to as a tip though it is technically a “gratuity”.
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